Weekly Feature

2012-01-25 / Sports

Fundraiser to be held for late youth softball pioneer

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

John Tripi Jr. John Tripi Jr. A fundraiser for the family of John C. Tripi Jr. — “Thanks to Tripi” — will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12, at the Sports Performance Park, located by the food court of the Eastern Hills Mall, 4545 Transit Road, Williamsville.

Admission is $10 and includes food and drink. Admission is free for children 12 and younger.

Door tickets can be picked up before the event at Sports Performance Park.

Mr. Tripi, a pioneer of Western New York youth softball, died Jan. 7, 2012, at age 59.

Mr. Tripi coached either baseball or softball for 41 consecutive years.

For 10 years, he ran the Hertel North Park League in which girls played baseball along with the boys. About 1972, Mr. Tripi was credited with forming the first girls softball program at that location.

Mr. Tripi’s two children, John A., 27, and Jillian C., 25, played ball and had their father as their coach.

John A. played baseball in Mathewson McCarthy Baseball League, and when Jillian was old enough, Mr. Tripi began his career as her coach in the Amherst Girls Softball Town League.

Mr. Tripi was involved with Amherst softball for 20 years, serving as a member of the Board of Directors and as Commissioner of the Town Softball League.

For the last 10 years, Mr. Tripi had been President of the Amherst Lightning Girls Fastpitch Travel Program. He was responsible for planning and directing the softball activities of 15 to 18 teams with about 12 girls per team each year. The girls ranged in age from 9 to 23, meaning he coached more than 1,000 different players.

Mr. Tripi — known to his friends as “Trip” — had a heart of gold.

Recently retired East softball coach Ron Schumacher said it wasn’t just on-the-field success that mattered to Mr. Tripi.

“He was really concerned about the girls, their future and well-being,” Schumacher said. “That is where John stood out among other coaches. I think that is why he was so popular. He was always positive.”

Tom Allers wrote in Mr. Tripi’s eulogy that Mr. Tripi never wanted a girl to not play softball because her family didn’t have the money.

“He would find a way to get help for that player, either by raising the money himself or going to friends he knew to ask if they would help out,” Allers said. “In every case, he would do it in such a way that the player didn’t know it was done. I specifically remember one time some years ago that John went to a local restaurant owner that he knew and asked for $250 that he then gave to the coach to reduce the amount the player’s family had to pay.”

Allers said Mr. Tripi also did not believe in cutting girls from teams.

“He would say, ‘Guys, we need to find a spot for these few girls, or you know what, they are probably going to give up softball,’” Allers said. “Looking back, most of those girls worked hard, got better and played years of softball.”

In addition to his children, Mr. Tripi is survived by his wife of 36 years, Patricia Pascolini, and a sister, Phyllis Stephenson.

If you cannot attend the fundraiser, you can send a donation to the John Tripi Fund at M&T Bank – Laurie Allers, 7300 Transit Road, Williamsville, NY 14221

If you would like to donate a gift basket or an item for the silent auction, email Diane Safir at dianesafir@roadrunner.com.

For more information about the event, visit www.facebook.com/pages/RIP-John-C-Tripi /222481231167318#!/events/29234 2804159667/.

email: pnagy@beenews.com

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